After being left to get comfortable in bed and enjoy our new arrival, the eldest had been dropped back home at this point and all settled for the evening. With pains radiating from pretty much all over, it was difficult to find a position that was comfortable in bed. The midwife had explained that baby may not want many feeds within the first couple of days and may just sleep a lot, but even with this I worried straight away that I wouldn’t know when she would want feeding or if she was even getting what she needed. A grunting noise was popular with our new arrival when she was hungry, sniffing around searching for the breast. Feeding for the first few times was very strange, apart from I had no idea if I was doing it correctly, if the latch was correct or not and then I was not even sure if baby was getting what she required or was after. All I did know at this point is that, though afterbirth you got painful contractions afterwards, these were increased and almost unbearable each time baby was feeding. I also found that I tended to need to get up pretty quickly after a feed and change as it would cause me to leak, even if I had just changed pads. This only happened for the first 24hours but was still unpleasant – along with finding it difficult to physically get out of bed due to my back going in spasms and the stitches. At this point my nipples had also started to get quiet sore and sensitive from the feeding, which was roughly every 3 to 4 hours as recommended, which included through the night.
Finding a comfortable position
Getting up to just change the baby was proving a task in itself, as well as needing the toilet myself – this was due to the back pain which seemed to not be easing as the hours went by. Each time I moved it sent a spasm up my back which is a pain I had, had in the past due to a back injury to the coccyx bone and horse riding. Wondering if I had re-injured this area with giving birth, finding somewhere I could sit to feed the baby was proving to be quiet difficult without the pain shooting up my back. When feeding the pain also continued to be intensified, not just within my lower stomach but in my back too, so a few times I found myself in tears with back, stomach and nipple pain the first couple of days. I did however manage to venture downstairs to the sofa which every step on the stairs was agony, though the sofa being comfortable was a welcome relief on my back. I could not sit directly on my coccyx bone, I had to sit one side to another, depending what side I was feeding baby. The only problem that would occur would be when I needed to get up and move again, but I was hoping this would ease over the coming weeks. Having the baby in a cradle position was my preferred feeding method at this time with her being so small, she – well cradled nicely into my arms to feed.
First few days check – up
An appointment was made at the local hospital for the 3 days afterbirth check up, as this fell on a Sunday, so had to brave the great outdoors. Baby was fed, wrapped up and bundled into the car seat for the first time, and I tried to shimmy myself into the passenger side of the car, the back pain and stitches proving to be my nemesis in this situation. My partner drove us all to the hospital, eldest daughter also being begrudgingly taken along for the ride, the car journey itself was agonizing. Every bump, slight movement or pothole in the road would send a sharp pain and spasm up my back, so a journey which took around 20 minutes felt like the whole day. It was more than safe to say I was extremely glad when we arrived at the hospital, getting the baby out the car and clipped into the pushchair, which became my leaning walking stick to get myself into the hospital and where we needed to be.
At the check up, all seemed fine with baby and they were happy with how she was doing, she had a small weight loss as they all do at that stage. I mentioned my concerns of feeding and the midwife checked how I fed and latched the baby and gave me some advice on how to help encourage a good latch each time, making sure of babies head position and mouth being open before latching. Also I was shown how to take her of when latched if she was latched badly without feeling like my nipple was going to be ripped away, as unaware to myself, a bad latch can affect how well the baby is feeding. After all the checks it was the dreaded journey home and back to the comfort of the sofa.
The minute the baby was born I felt instantly hungry, with suffering from sickness throughout the pregnancy this at the time was a welcome feeling. The feeling of being constantly hungry started to become uncomfortable due to eating and then feeling hungry almost straight away. When getting up and moving around was painful enough, getting up to get food to feed what felt like a bottomless pit was the last thing I wanted. Though the hunger was obvious and happy to make itself known, the one thing I didn’t really consider with keeping hydrated. I was lacking a lot in fluids the first week or so as I just did not think about keeping myself hydrated but also feeding the baby also uses extra fluids too, which left me feeling like a dried up prune at times. It was just something easily forgotten about but important to try and keep a mental reminder to drink frequently.
Being mindful of my partner
It is very easy to get lost in all the excitement and everything else going on that partners are very easily put to a side. However with being constantly hungry I had my partner fetching me food every 5 minutes, and due to finding it difficult to get around, even bending down was agonising – meant a lot of the house duties were put onto my partner too. Luckily he had a bit of time of work once baby was born, not much but enough to get us settled and for him to recover too and learn to live with lack of sleep. This was my partners first child and though he sees my eldest as his own, he had not experienced newborns, nappies and how much attention babies actually require. It was difficult to try keep everyone going as well as myself, feeling useless that I could not get up and do as much as I would normally and with my partner feeling useless and a bad dad, it was also a very emotional draining time for everyone. He was very supportive of the breast feeding, but I did feel like he struggled with the feeding as we did not have the bottles, which meant he did not get that feeding experience, missing out on this bonding experience. The first couple of weeks did obviously put quiet a bit of strain on the relationship, he had only lived with us for about 6months at this point so we were still learning to live with each other too. He was however spending more time with the eldest and took her to the park and spent some time with her, which increased their bond more which was good. He also had my pony to go and check and look after, but for the first week someone at the yard looked after her for me, which took a little bit of the pressure of with that.
Something to be mindful of
Now that I have had time to reflect back on this time, some bits have been forgotten, but it is important to remember that it can be a difficult time for everyone with a newborn, watching them grow and develop is amazing, however making time and being mindful of everyone in your little family bubble is important too. I did find it difficult to juggle my own thoughts and self doubt along with my partners struggles of being a bad dad and not feeling good enough. Obviously at the time you can only do the best you can, looking back on it leaves things easier said than done, but every step we took was worth where we are now. The very early stages are easy to over look and not think back on too much, however without my partners help in this time I would not of been able to cope or manage everything.